Correction: An earlier version of this story should have said Sandra Marshall, one of eight people vying to challenge U.S. Rep. Lois Capps in the 24th congressional district race, is a registered Democrat. Also, Capps is seeking her ninth full term in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Creating jobs, easing government regulation and repealing the Affordable Care Act were constant themes Monday when five Republicans hoping to win the seat long held by Democratic Rep. Lois Capps gathered for a question-and-answer panel discussion at the Paso Robles Golf Club.
Hosted by Paso Robles Republican Women Federated, the forum featured candidates Bradley Allen, Justin Fareed, Dale Francisco, Chris Mitchum and Alexis Stewart, who discussed before approximately 100 people why each had the best chance of winning the primary election in June and unseating Capps in November.
Questions were based on a January Rasmussen report that found that the economy and job creation top the list of the 15 most important issues for voters, followed by health care and government spending.
Asked about their strategy to improve the economy and stimulate job growth, Allen and Fareed said that reversing the Affordable Care Act would be a good start. Allen, a Santa Barbara orthopedic surgeon and small business owner, said the bill will destroy some 2.3 million jobs nationwide, and said scores more will not be created because of high costs to employers.
“If enough people enroll in this, it’s staying,” Allen said. “There are targeted ways to bring this down.”
Fareed, a Santa Barbara cattle rancher and businessman, suggested sunset provisions to certain government programs to evaluate which are necessary and which should be modified or cut. He did not specify any programs.
Francisco, a former software engineer and current Santa Barbara city councilman, suggested allowing the drilling of oil wells in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties as a way to create jobs and promote energy independence.
“Capps has been talking about bringing green jobs,” Francisco said. “I don’t see any green jobs here.”
Mitchum, a Tea Party conservative and son of the late actor Robert Mitchum, agreed.
“There’s oil all over this country,” said Mitchum, who lost a 2010 bid for the office in the primary election to former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado. “We create wealth by developing our own natural resources.”
On the topic of health care, every candidate expressed their disapproval of the Affordable Care Act, calling it the largest example of federal government interference in the free market.
Fareed said the bill should be brought back before Congress. Mitchum added that tort reform and malpractice insurance reform also need to be enacted.
Stewart, a Nipomo real estate broker and entrepreneur, suggested that people should think preventively when it comes to health issues.
Candidates were also asked how they would court Hispanic voters and voters under the age of 30, key demographics in the district. Mitchum noted his involvement with the UC Santa Barbara College Republicans.
“(Young people) are starting to wake up, starting their life, looking for a job. They’re finding out what this government is doing is hurting them,” Mitchum said.
Stewart said that the Republican Party should not try to alter its values to attract new voters, but rather win back voters it has lost.
“We need to quit focusing on changing our conservative values for those that don’t want to be conservative,” Stewart said.
Allen said he would focus on explaining to young and Hispanic voters the specifics about the Affordable Care Act, which he called “a tax on the young.”
Fareed, who is 25 years old, said he would “leave no stone unturned” in seeking out young voters.
“Young people are so disenfranchised at what we see,” Fareed said. “We’re seeing a future of higher taxes and less jobs.”
In closing, Francisco said that while he has many issues with Capps’ leadership, he conceded that “people like her” and a candidate will have to “peel off some independents” in order to defeat her in November.
Capps is seeking her ninth full term in the House of Representatives. In 2010, she beat Maldonado by winning 55 percent of the vote. Maldonado had defeated Mitchum in the primary to become the Republican candidate.
The 24th congressional district race also includes Democratic challenger and Orcutt resident Paul Coyne Jr.; Democrat Sandra Marshall; and Steve Isakson, a chief engineer at Rantec Power Systems in Los Osos and owner of a small consulting firm. Isakson is registered without stating a party affiliation.
Here’s a look at the eight candidates bidding to challenge Lois Capps in November: